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Cablegate: English Language Fellow Program in Turkey

VZCZCXYZ0042
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHAK #0528 0671503
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 081503Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY ANKARA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1261
INFO RUEHIT/AMCONSUL ISTANBUL 2279

UNCLAS ANKARA 000528

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR ECA/A/L: JCONNERLEY, CWILLIAMSON, EWILLIAMS, PESTEP;
EUR/PPD: ABARBARO, MOKEEFE, LDAVIS, JRICKERT; INFO ECA: A/S POWELL,
DAS FARRELL, EUR: DAS CGRAFFY, EUR/SE, R - ARUPPE, KPOSNER-MULLEN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OEXC KPAO SCUL TU
SUBJECT: English Language Fellow Program in Turkey

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The English Language Fellow (ELF) Program has
proven to be a valuable public diplomacy tool for reaching younger
and broader audiences across Turkey, at a time when US foreign
policies are viewed with suspicion by Turkish opinion leaders and
citizens. ELF access to educators, officials, university students,
and the common kid on the street has tremendous positive impact on
Turkish perceptions of America and Americans. ELF programs, and
their daily interaction with Turkish counterparts, has also directly
improved the content and methodology of English language instruction
in Turkey. Post greatly appreciated ECA and EUR support for the
Turkey ELF program in FY-07, and would welcome and strongly support
a sustained or increased program that continues to overcome negative
stereotypes of the US. END SUMMARY

2. (U) BACKGROUND: The English Language Fellow Program is a
valuable Public Diplomacy tool that reaches thousands of Turkish
youth and educators. Since 1995, Turkey has hosted 38 Fellows at 22
different educational institutions throughout the country. The
English Language Fellow Program in Turkey has grown from one Fellow
in 1995 to ten each in 2005 and 2006, with outstanding support from
ECA and EUR Bureaus, plus a significant contribution of post public
diplomacy funds. In 2006, the 10 ELFs directly reached over 6000
students and teachers in classrooms and workshops throughout Turkey
with hands-on activities and thematic training focusing on critical
thinking, civic education, and democratic practices

3. (U) The English Language Fellow Program remains Post's largest
single outreach tool in Turkey. Often serving in smaller, more
distant cities, the English Language Fellows become akin to
"American Presence Ambassadors." They are often the only American
younger Turks ever meet, serving as single-person resources of
information on all things American for the local populace. Six of
the ten current English Language Fellows teach undergraduate
students at universities in cities with very little to no American
presence.

4. (U) Content is Key: The Fellows teach university classroom
courses ranging from literature and lexicology to speaking and
teaching film. Outside of their regularly scheduled courses, Fellows
design and facilitate supplemental English language programming such
as workshops for colleagues, deliver presentations for secondary
school students on aspects of American culture, host conversation
clubs, and give culture presentations to anyone interested in or
curious about the United States. The English Language Fellows also
have a very real and positive impact in the classroom. Their
democratic, learner-centered teaching style is appreciated by their
audiences and admired (and emulated) by their colleagues.

5. (SBU) Education Inroads: The Fellows have gained impressive
access to, and credibility with, their counterparts. Working within
an often suspicious bureaucratic culture (which requires a
cumbersome clearance process for even public school visits by
embassy officials), the ELF working with the Ministry of Education
in Ankara regularly visits public classrooms. This access marks an
enormous stride in our working relationship with the Ministry of
Education. Because of this ELF's innovative work , the Ministry of
Education is currently considering adopting the Office of English
Language Programs' new offering, "Shaping the Way We Teach English,"
as part of its national teacher training program. No Turkish
educational institution has turned down an offer to host an English
Language Fellow and many institutions have asked for more than one.

6. (U) Comment: 2007 is a critical year for US-Turkish relations,
marked by Turkish suspicion of US policies and actions concerning
Iraq, the Middle East, PKK terrorism, and a possible "Armenian
genocide" resolution in Congress. A recent BBC World Service Survey
reported that only seven percent of polled Turks currently have a
positive opinion of US influence. While our Mission gives high
priority to explaining and advancing US policies through public
diplomacy, we are also in vital need of cultural, exchange, and
English-language programs that broaden and deepen the relationship
with the Turkish public. The English Language Fellow Program has
been our number-one program for face-to-face interaction between
Turks and Americans in the arena of education, and remains popular
regardless of Turkish opinion on specific USG policies. The ELFs
provide exceptional outreach to youth and distant areas of Turkey,
with activities that promote democratic values and positive
presentations of America. It is now more important than ever to
offset the negative image of Americans in the Turkish and
international media through access to real Americans serving in the
classrooms, interacting with youth, and sharing resources with local
educators. We therefore strongly support a sustained or increased
English Language Fellow program for Turkey in the coming fiscal
year. End Comment.

WILSON

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